Wrekonize, RJD2 Production, and Having Faith in the Creative Process

May 12 2017

Albums often serve as benchmarks in an artists career. Sonic Polaroids of where and who an artist is at the time. When one album is released and done with, it’s on to the next. A new album means new thoughts, ideas, feelings, and sounds.

Albums come sequentially, but art is not subject to the laws of time.

We often perceive it as cut and dry–going into the studio and recording a specific song for a specific, already plotted album–but that is a more the exception not the rule.  In reality it’s a constant juggling act of themes and concepts, songs and styles, of having it occur organically and making it work.

It’s not a formulaic, mechanical process; sometimes it just comes down to timing and faith. Nowhere is that more clear, than Wrekonize’s Into The Further.

Conceptually, Wrek’s latest solo venture, Into The Further, builds off his the psyche-driven, groundwork laid by 2013’s The War With In, but in construction it’s as much the foundation as it is the addition.

Even the idea for a series, a mystically-twinged dive into the subconscious, didn’t occur to Wrekonize until he sat down to start his new album. In an exclusive interview, Wrekonize noted,“When I did War Within, I didn’t plan for it to continue,” adding, “but when I started drawing up the second album I thought it would be kind of cool to revisit that.”

Though it was released in 2013, four years later, The War Within‘s narrative changes with Into The Further. No longer is it a standalone album, but now, it’s beginning of a larger series.

The idea for a follow-up might be the most extreme example of how an album’s development, but it’s certainly not the only way The War Within defies chronology.

Take “Basically Numb,” the final cut on the album. You might think it was the last track to be developed–like writing the conclusion of a essay last–but it actually predates Into The Further. According to Wrekonize, it was birthed from a project that was never released:

Before Into The Further I was supposed to do an EP for Strange. It was gonna be called Pressure Point. I was having health problems at the time, blood pressure issues, and I wasn’t feeling like myself. “Basically Numb” was the way I wanted to end that EP. When I started transferring songs and shifted the focus to an album, “Basically Numb” felt like a good way to close both projects even though Pressure Point didn’t come out.

So, the follow up album that wasn’t initially developed as such (Into The Further) changes the narrative of it’s predecessor (The War Within) while also incorporating elements of a project created in between the two albums but never got released (Pressure Points).

Got it? Good, because we aren’t done yet.

Wrek’s determined flow and Tyson-esque hook game sounds right at home on the inspirational, “Through The Rain,” but as it turns out, the guitar-driven effort was initially developed in a session for a different album for a different artist. See You On The Other Side from Wrek’s MAYDAY cohort, Bernz.

The ‘Through The Rain’ beat was made during the See You On The Other Side sessions but it never got used.” Wrek said, adding, “It wasn’t purposely made for that album, but it was made around he time beats were begin made for that album and then we kind of sat on it, nobody knew what to do with it and then it came up when we were digging through beats for Into The Further.

Or how about “Knuckle Dragging”? That effort is four years in the making!

‘Knuckle Dragging’ is a actually a song I’ve had for four years. I think I did it right before I started on War Within. We started working with this group in Miami, The Pushers and Infamous who produced on Believers.  I heard the beat and I loved it I put one verse and a hook on it and it kind of sat dormant.

I wanted to put it on War Within but for some reason it didn’t get finished. When this album came around I was looking through old stuff to get some ideas and this one came on and I was like ‘why didn’t I finish this?!’ It also feels like something I don’t have a lot of on the album. It’s hard, aggressive, and the rest is a spacey vibe. It feels much needed.

Imagine spending the time and energy on something, only to never release it. Personally, thinking of writing an article, and not sharing it sends shivers up my spine. The only thing more unthinkable, is to pick up an article a few years later.

Between ending the album on a strong note with “Basically Numb” and having “Knuckle Dragging” serve as a great change of pace, Wrekonize’s patience, and faith in the process, was rewarded, because it’s one song that didn’t make the album that has and will continue test Wrek’s patience.

When I asked him about a dream collaboration. Wrek mentioned producer RJD2. Whether or not you know his name or not-you know RJD2’s work. “Ghostwriter” has amassed over 36 million Spotify streams alone thanks to it’s frequent use in commercials and “A Beautiful Mine” was the theme song for Mad Men.

More than just reputation, It’s RJD2’s colorful landscapes and crisp drums–a perfect paring with Wrekonize’s charisma and diversity–that would it such an exciting collaboration, one Wrek has been pursuing for time. “I’ve been chasing for a long time.” Wrek stated, which made what he said next even more surprising.

I got him to give me a track for this album, but I didn’t complete it and it didn’t fit in with the project so its one I’m hoping I can realign with him for the next project, because I almost had him for this one.  

I got the beat and I got super hype. He said ‘if you aren’t feeling it I can send you some other stuff’ I was like, ‘I do like it but I want to hear more stuff.’  That was a catch 22. When a producer that you love is telling you he’ll send you more beats but I just wanted to swing on the first one.

I wanted to swing on that first one we tried a couple ideas on it and the beat is super dope, but it just didn’t get finished. Somethings don’t get finished. Hopefully that beat will make it onto something else and it’ll all make sense, but yeah, it was hard. Finishing the album, and not having that a part of it was painful for sure.

It must have been incredibly tempting to simply force the song on the album; even Wrek admitted the difficulty in the decision. Stashing a beat from a coveted producer is the ultimate test of patience and faith. Luckily, Wrek passed with flying colors, likely because he’s been studying for years, “The thing I learned with MAYDAY is that we’ve had records we didn’t finish, then…later we finish it and it all makes sense. I’ve seen that happen over a five year period.” Wrek concluded with, “I never rush or force a song.”

Sometimes more important than patience and faith in the music you don’t release is the patience and faith in the music you do release; hindsight can itch like a infected mosquito bite. That’s where Into The Further  comes in. Despite a vast array of sounds and styles, Into The Further is a complete, flowing start-to-finish listen. A seamlessly assembled endeavor, you wouldn’t have guessed it comes from different times and even different artists.

Had Wrekonize bound his creativity to time, we wouldn’t have Into The Further as it exists now; some of the strongest efforts would have been already released under different names, from different albums, even by different artists.

They say great music is timeless. That goes for the listener being able to pick it up in any era and relate, but, demonstrated by Into the Further it applies to the creator as well.